Pernil, turkey, guacamole, and stuffing are some of the dishes that will be served in Latino households this Thanksgiving. Many Latinos in the community are incorporating their own culture into the U.S. holiday.
Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday of November. According to Britannica, Americans generally believe that their Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. The celebration was announced as a national holiday in 1863.
Fabiola Giguere, owner of Achiq Designs in Cheshire, celebrates the holiday the traditional American way.
“With having kids who were born here in the United States, I had no choice but to celebrate the traditional way because I wanted them to have that experience,” she said.
Giguere never celebrated the holiday in Peru, so when she moved to the U.S. in 1981, she started celebrating. “My husband is from Connecticut, so that’s partly why we do it the traditional way but for Christmas that’s when I bring out my paneton, potato salad, and hot chocolate,” she said.
“Thanksgiving is just all about giving thanks and I love having this experience with my kids and family.” she added.
Evelyn Robles-Rivas, Supervisor of Language and Community Partnerships for Meriden Public Schools, explains that Thanksgiving is celebrated in Puerto Rico since the island has influence from the U.S. The twist is that the archipelago celebrates with their own traditional dishes.
“We would have a nice dinner with pernil, arroz con gandules, potato salad and invite the family,” she said.
Now, Robles-Rivas celebrates the holiday with her husband and daughters. “I will have my arroz con gandules, potato salad, sweet potato, and either chicken or turkey for dinner.” she said. “It’s not a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving without the potato salad.”
Evangeline Mendoza-Bourgeois, Music Director at the Spanish Community of Wallingford’s School of Music, grew up celebrating Thanksgiving in a predominantly Mexican community in Arizona. “Growing up, our main dish was turkey and mole,” she said. “We also had rice, beans, and potatoes.”
As she got older, Mendoza-Bourgeois said that the Mexican dishes slowly went away during Thanksgiving. Her family had started to adapt to the U.S. traditions.
Now, her husband is French Canadian so the couple combines all three of the cultures into the feast. There is always French Canadian Apple Pie at the table. “We usually celebrate with my husband's family in New Canaan and I always bring guacamole and a spicy chili sauce with jalapenos, tomatillos, and habanero peppers,” she said. In addition, she prepares sweet potato pie for the family.
“My husband and his brother always sing O Canada during the celebration,” she laughed. “They haven’t learned the national anthem of Mexico but we’re working on it!”